Tree replacement at the National Library of Australia

The National Capital Authority is overseeing tree replacement in the forecourt of the National Library of Australia. Works include the replacement of the existing trees, replenishment of the soil, upgrades to the irrigation system and the installation of new grass.

Tree replacement is required to restore a suitable level of quality to the forecourt area. Over the past 60 years, several of the trees have been removed and many are in a weakened state with missing or falling branches. The trees have been assessed as being in a state of deteriorating condition and unlikely to return to full strength or character as originally intended.

Replanting for the future

The replanting of the trees in the forecourt of the National Library of Australia (NLA) will retain the cultural heritage characteristics that contribute to the significance and formality of the forecourt setting.

The identified heritage values of the trees within the forecourt of the NLA are:

* The formal, column-like appearance and symmetry of the two double rows of Lombardy poplar plantings in front of the NLA and the lawn terrace of the forecourt reflect and complement the Late Twentieth Century Stripped Classical style of the NLA
* The symmetrical planted trees frame and focus the view to and from the entrance of the NLA
* The contribution of the trees to the definition of the east-west axis across the southern shore of the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin and running between the NLA and the High Court of Australia
* The contribution of the trees to the heritage values for the wider landscape setting of the Parliamentary Zone and National Triangle.

Given the heritage significance of this site, the existing trees species – Populus nigra ‘Italica’ – will be maintained for this landscape renewal.

The NCA was issued a permit by the ACT Government to plant trees regulated under the ACT Government’s Pests, Plants and Animals Act 2005. The permit has been granted on this occasion in recognition of the unique heritage site and characteristics required by Populus nigra ‘Italica’ to maintain the heritage values. The ACT Government also noted the very high standard of maintenance the NCA will undertake to reduce any impact on surrounding areas as a result of this tree species being replanted.

The National Capital Authority is overseeing tree replacement in the forecourt of the National Library of Australia.

Planning for tree replacement

Recognising the significance of trees under the management of the NCA and considering the age and ability for adaption to the changing climate of the wide and varied species of the significant treescapes, the NCA undertook detailed considerations for the species selection. Planning for the tree replacement commenced in 2017, running parallel with the development of the NCA’s Tree Management Policy.

Heritage studies and assessments were undertaken, along with soil analysis. A range of tree species were identified and considered that may assist in conserving the heritage values of the formal forecourt planting. A program of works was established and subsequently the planning approval processes commenced.

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